Cathy struggled with Acid Reflux for years, and then found herself in a pickle.
Like so many others, Cathy noticed in High School that certain foods like tomatoes and orange juice gave her intolerable stomach pains. At first she was able to endure with the usual go-to’s, Tums®, Gelusil and Maalox®. In her 20′s, she realized it was time to see a doctor. An upper GI was done and it showed she had Acid Reflux or GERD. At first, OTC medications provided some relief, but it wasn’t long before they didn’t help. In her late 20′s, the doctor prescribed Nexium®, which helped until her 40′s when the Acid Reflux got worse and her doctor prescribed 2 pills per day. Not wishing to remain in the grasp of 2 pills a day, she weaned herself down to one pill plus an acid reducer like Prevacid®, Equate®, Prilosec®, store brand acid controller, etc. At 58, Cathy was diagnosed as anemic and her research showed her a link between Nexium and magnesium deficiency and osteoporosis. To make matters worse, the Nexium wasn’t helping any longer. Cathy decided 31 years of PPI use was enough, and the constant burning in her esophagus, throat and stomach and bloating and gas from Acid Reflux had to stop.
During her acid reflux journey, Cathy was ready to try ANYTHING to get relief. “I had to be careful what I ate, when I ate it and how much I ate. I made sure I had a big jar of Mt Olive pickles on hand to drink the juice and eat the pickles because nothing else seemed to help relieve the pain. Mexican restaurants and pizza were out, for the most part. I’d eat there and then suffer for it. I tried acid reflux diets, not eating bread or pasta, eating certain foods together at one time, eating one meal a day or several small meals a day, taking vinegar, eating Activia®, anything to alleviate the pain. I kept my weight down, exercised to strengthen my core. I ate small meals and just suffered. After a while I just did what I had to do and eat the best I could because everything I ate caused problems. It got to the point where nothing worked anymore. I wouldn’t lay down to go to sleep until my stomach settled down and even when I did, at times I would wake up choking with stomach acid in my lungs and would have to get up and cough and rinse my mouth out for about an hour to get rid of the horrible taste. I was sick a lot with colds and bronchitis and would have sore throats because of the acid. My quality of life was just existing; at times I wished I could cut my stomach out and get a new one.”
Not only did Cathy have to deal with the food issues, she also worried how Acid Reflux was affecting her family and work life. Her husband was bothered to see her in pain and she worried about disturbing his sleep. At parties, she ate very little and would still have to leave early due to refluxing. At work, lunches would make the acid reflux flare and she would have to stop what she was doing to take antacids. She feels this affected her concentration and clarity of thought, and she would have to redo a task because she couldn’t think clearly.
Among the food issues, sleep deprivation, lack of concentration, anemia and awkwardly having to explain her visible pain and discomfort to others, Cathy knew she had to try something else. While researching for solutions on the internet she found the TIF® procedure. To her delight, she found information about an upcoming seminar explaining the TIF procedure at a hospital near her. She went to the hospital and listened as the physician explained the TIF procedure. Cathy liked the fact that the TIF procedure is an incisionless procedure, with a quicker recovery time. Allowing patients to burp and throw up if need be, plus stopping Nexium for fear of bone loss and anemia were all selling points to Cathy. She was determined to have the procedure done after doing her own research. Testing , including a swallow test, an upper GI and EKG showed that Cathy was a good candidate for the procedure. Cathy says “The preoperative testing wasn’t bad and it didn’t delay my decision to have the procedure. The most frustrating part was just getting the surgery scheduled because all the testing was done around Christmas. The procedure was done in the middle of January.”
After the procedure and recovery, Cathy was delighted to find that she has had ” NO ACID REFLUX!!!! ” and says “it was sooo worth doing” and “it has changed my life.” Cathy no longer has to deal with the constant burning, sleepless nights, acid in her lungs and throat, the pain in her stomach and chest, the worry about how will this food react in her system, taking Nexium that caused other problems, and having to go the store and search for something to relieve the pain. She no longer has to purchase pickles every time she goes to the grocery store. When asked what she would tell other Acid Reflux sufferers, she says “I would recommend this to other GERD sufferers for relief once and for all. For me, this is a permanent solution to a very troubling, life altering disease.”
Since the procedure, Cathy finds herself enjoying dark chocolate, oranges, and chili as well as bike riding, gardening and exercise now that the acid is gone. And her pantry now has space since the pickles are also gone.
Sharon Palermo is in the marketing and training department and part of each day is spent sharing the myriad of things said about heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer on the GERDHelp social media channels.